The Unofficial History of Warren Buffett

By | Published December 20th, 2013

Warren Buffett, also known as “The Oracle of Omaha,” is one of the most famous investors in the world. Having amassed one of the largest fortunes ever seen, Buffett is an idol for investors and businesses across the globe. We took a look back at the Oracle’s life and dissected his ventures and successes. Below, we present the complete history of Warren Buffett and his prolific career.

Warren Buffett’s Personal Life

The following timeline displays some the most significant events in Buffett’s personal life, as he developed into one of the greatest minds in the business world.

Personal Net Worth

Warren began investing at the age of 11 and his savings habits were more impressive than those of most adults. He used his savings from newspaper deliveries to purchase farmland in his home state well before he entered college. Buffett’s pinball machine business had also taken off, and he ended up selling the company before graduating high school. He began working for Ben Graham at age 24, and his $12,000 salary at the time helped him bolster his savings even more.

Although it is unclear exactly when Warren’s wealth surpassed the $1 million mark, he did achieve his childhood dream of becoming a millionaire by age 30. By age 35, Buffett’s partnerships had grown to $26 million in worth and in three short years this grew to a stellar $104 million. Berkshire’s stock entered a rough stretch and the declining share price eroded nearly one half of Buffett’s wealth at age 44. However, the Oracle bounced back stronger than ever and in three years his net worth reached new highs of $67 million.

While earning a $50,000 salary as the head of Berkshire, Buffett’s wealth surpassed the coveted $1 billion mark right around his 56th birthday. At age 66, when most of his peers were concerned with retirement, Buffett’s fortunes reached unimaginable highs, and his net worth surpassed $30 billion by the time he turned 70. Most recently, Forbes named Warren Buffett the fourth richest person in the world; he is also the oldest on the list at age 83.

The Berkshire Years

Warren Buffett turned Berkshire Hathaway into one of the most dominant companies in the world. Below, we detail the growth and progression of Berkshire’s Class A shares (BRK-A).

Taking a look at the monthly price of BRK-A gives investors an idea of how much the stock has soared since it debuted in 1990.

In the 20+ years Berkshire Hathaway has been a publicly traded company, Buffett has led the company to negative returns just four times. The stock enjoyed an average annual return of 17.41%; the S&P 500 averaged 9.46% over that same time frame.

Visualized another way, here is a look at the daily performance of BRK-A since its inception:

BRK Daily

Note the significant volatility in the early 2000s and in 2009. In fact, BRK-A’s stock is known for displaying a fair amount of movement on a day-to-day basis, as demonstrated below:

Here is the growth of the average daily volume by year. Note that 2010 saw the B-class shares split, drumming up interest in the company as a whole and enticing new buyers. It is no coincidence, then, that the highest volume day in the company’s history was on February 12th, 2010, as noted above.

Last but not least, we show you the amount of money you would have today had you invested $100,000 in BRK-A at the end of 1990:

Acquisitions 

The Oracle quickly became famous for acquiring or taking large stakes in some of the biggest companies in the world. Buffett had a particular affinity for dividend-payers like Coca-Cola (KO), among others. The following list displays all of the acquisitions Berkshire completed while operating as a private firm.

 

Berkshire Acquisitions when Publicly Traded

When Berkshire went public, it had more funding and opportunity than ever, allowing it to continue to acquire and invest in new firms.

 

Buffett Through the Ages

Below, we display some of the most iconic and famous photographs of Warren Buffett over the course of his lifetime.

 

The slide show below features some of the Oracle’s best speeches and video clips of his career.


 

Warren Buffett’s Google Plus

With so many connections and partners throughout the business world, we created a mock Google Plus page for Buffett, dividing his circles into Berkshire Buddies, Family, Bridge Partners, Investing Idols, Famous Friends and a group for everyone the Oracle would likely follow. Hover over an image to learn more about a particular individual.

To learn more about Buffett and his views, here is a database of hundreds of clips, quotes and interviews the Oracle has given over the years.

Warren Buffett

  • Works at Berkshire Hathaway
  • Lives in Omaha
  • 1 Billion have him in circles

Berkshire Buddies

288,500
Sandy GottesmanBoard Member
Stephen BurkeBoard Member, CEO of NBC Universal
Don KeoughBoard Member, CEO of Allen &Company Inc.
Bill GatesBoard Member, Founder of Microsoft
Susan DeckerBoard Member
Thomas MurphyBoard Member
Howard Graham BuffettDirector, Board Member, Son
Charlotte GuymanBoard Member
Ronald OlsonBoard Member
Walter ScottBoard Member
Charlie MungerVice Chairman
Meryl WitmerBoard Member

Fun Fact

  • Berkshire Hathaway
  • Employs 288,500 full-time workers
  • Has 12 directors on its board

Quote

Our board is devoted to Berkshire — we don’t pay them huge sums of money to keep them there.

Family

12
Howard Graham BuffettDirector, Board Member, Son
Susie BuffettDaughter
Peter BuffettSon
Susan BuffettEx Wife
Astrid MenksWife
Nicole BuffettGranddaughter
Doris BuffettSister
Howard W BuffettGrandson

Quote

I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing.

Fun Fact

Buffett has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth to charity, which amounts to a whopping $57,915,000,000.00

Bridge Partners

5
Bill GatesBoard Member, Founder of Microsoft
Carol LoomisForbes
George Gillespie
Sharon Osberg
Doris BuffettSister

Quote

You know, if I’m playing bridge and a naked woman walks by, I don’t ever see her.

Quote

It turns out that Warren’s brilliant way of looking at the world is just as useful in attacking poverty and disease as it is in building a business. He’s one of a kind.

- Bill Gates

Investing Idols

2
Benjamin Graham
Philip Arthur Fisher

Fun Fact

Buffett considers himself 85% Graham, 15% Fisher

Quote

It’s very important to have the right framework. You need to have an approach to investing that’s sound. If you have the right philosophy, you will find opportunities as you go through the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years.

Famous Friends

34
Jay Z
Lebron James
Aaron Paul
Bill GatesBoard Member
Bon Jovi
Barack Obama
Jimmy Buffett
Glenn Close

Fun Fact

Jimmy and Warren Buffett had a DNA test to prove they were NOT related

Fun Fact

Warren Buffett has played the ukulele with Bon Jovi and Glenn Close

Following

105
Benjamin MooreBerkshire Subsidiary
Fruit of the LoomBerkshire Subsidiary
GeicoBerkshire Subsidiary
Dairy QueenBerkshire Subsidiary
Omaha World HealthBerkshire Subsidiary
Net JetsBerkshire Subsidiary
Coca-ColaBerkshire Stake
University of Nebraska
The Washington PostBerkshire Stake
American ExpressBerkshire Stake
Omaha Storm ChasersMinor League Baseball Team
HeinzBerkshire Stake

Quote

Charlie and I have again donned our safari outfits and resumed our search for elephants

- Warren Buffett on acquiring half of Heinz

Fun Fact

Berkshire owns 55 subsidiary companies, including Geico, Fruit of the Loom, Dairy Queen, and Benjamin Moore

Without a doubt, Warren Buffett is among the most famous and successful investors of all time, as demonstrated by his body of work. The Oracle of Omaha has earned himself a place in investing history, as many will look to his methods and strategies for ages to come.

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